Microsoft last night announced a set of new features in Microsoft Teams that make virtual interactions more natural. These features offer three key benefits for people at work and in education. First, they can help users feel more connected with their teams and reduce meeting fatigue. Second, they make meetings more inclusive and engaging. And lastly, they help streamline work and save time.
Microsoft supplied the following information on the new features:
Feel more connected and reduce meeting fatigue
At a time when people are conducting more virtual meetings than ever, Microsoft’s research has shown that many of us feel less connected since moving to remote work. Another huge factor of the remote work experience is more fatigue during video meetings than during in-person collaboration.
Together mode is a new meeting experience in Teams that uses AI segmentation technology to digitally place participants in a shared background, making it feel like you’re sitting in the same room with everyone else in the meeting or class. Together mode makes meetings more engaging by helping you focus on other people’s faces and body language and making it easier to pick up on the non-verbal cues that are so important to human interaction.
It’s great for meetings in which multiple people will speak, such as brainstorms or roundtable discussions, because it makes it easier for participants to understand who is talking. Together mode with auditorium view is rolling out now and will be generally available in August.
While Together mode offers an extraordinary new meeting experience, it’s not intended for every meeting. A set of enhancements to video calls called Dynamic view gives you more control over how you see shared screens and other participants in a meeting. Using AI, meetings dynamically optimise shared screens and video participants.
We’ve all become familiar with video filters used in social media apps, and now they come to Teams. Before joining a meeting, you can use the filters to adjust lighting levels through software and soften the focus of the camera to customise your appearance.
Reflect messaging extension
Creating an emotionally supportive environment is key to keeping people healthy, happy, and focused. The new Reflect messaging extension gives managers, leaders and teachers a new way to check in with how their team or students are feeling — either in general, or about a specific topic like work-life balance, the status of a project, current events, or a change within the organization.
IT administrators will be able to install the Reflect extension from GitHub, and then make it available to employees in their organization in the message extension menu. Once installed, the extension provides suggested check-in questions and the ability to add custom questions that team members can respond to in a poll-like experience. Managers or teachers can also choose to make poll results anonymous. The Reflect messaging extension will be available in the coming weeks.
Make meetings more inclusive, engaging, and effective
Non-verbal cues like smiles and head nods can be difficult to notice in online meetings, making it challenging for presenters to gauge audience reactions. Soon, users will be able to react during a meeting using emojis that will appear to all participants. Live reactions is a shared feature with PowerPoint Live Presentations, which allows audience members to provide instant feedback to the presenter.
Speaker attribution for live captions and transcripts
While Teams already provides live captions as a way to follow along with what is being said in a meeting, soon we will add speaker attribution to captions so that everyone knows who is speaking. Live transcripts, coming later this year, provide another way to follow along with what has been said and who said it. After a meeting, the transcript file is automatically saved in a tab as a part of the meeting.
Interactive meetings for 1,000 participants and overflow
There are times when it’s important to bring large groups together for meetings or classes. For more interactive meetings—where attendees can chat, unmute to talk, and turn on their videos for real-time collaboration—Teams meetings are growing to support up to 1,000 participants. When you want to bring more people together to watch a presentation or discussion, Teams can support a view-only meeting experience for up to 20,000 participants.
Streamline your work and save time
The Tasks app in Teams, rolling out this month, provides a new unified view of tasks from across Microsoft To Do, Planner, and Outlook. Smart lists like “Assigned to me” bring tasks together across different places. Add Tasks as a tab in a channel and get your familiar Planner tab experience with the new list view.
Get your message across with one tap. Suggested replies in Teams chat uses assistive AI to create short responses based on the context of the previous message. This feature is similar to the suggested replies in LinkedIn chat. So the next time someone asks you “Do you have time to meet today?” you can respond “I sure do!” without even pulling up your keyboard. This feature will be rolling out this month.
These features will be rolling out now and will be generally available next month.